Ah, Resident Evil. I have a soft spot for the Resident Evil franchise. My first introduction to this series, like many others, was Resident Evil 4. Except I got it on PC a lot longer after it had been released. From there I was fascinated with it, the oddball campiness of it all, the thrilling yet horrific imagery, the tense and addictive gameplay.
Even though I did not own the original PlayStation when I was younger, my PlayStation 2 miraculously still worked and I went out to buy all the original main Resident Evil titles so that I could play them. Whilst we did have Resident Evil HD for PC, there used to be no way to play the original sequels, RE2 and RE3: Nemesis, without an old console that still worked or an emulator.
So to say that I am a fan of the Resident Evil series is an understatement. Whilst I may not know all the hardcore lore and history of each and every game, I am still a huge fan of the games and their design, and their atmosphere, and their convoluted story, and their over-the-top characters with over-the-top villains that always culminate in some over-the-top set piece. I love these games, and I was extremely excited for the Resident Evil 3 Remake.
But as with most things in life, time got the better of me and it took me a while to get this review written. I also had to decide whether or not to judge it based on the game itself, or based on the fact that it’s a remake, but that’s a really tough choice when the name ‘remake’ is in the title itself. So, instead I’ll be switching between either of the two, sometimes judging the game for what it is, and sometimes judging it as a remake, take that as you will. So without further ado, let’s get started…
The Resident Evil 3 Remake follows Jill Valentine as she rushes to escape the infested streets of Raccoon City, all the while being chased by a relentless monstrosity that’s hellbent on wiping you off the planet like a stain on a brand new white shirt.
The story is nothing special here, much like other titles in the series, but it’s the tension, challenges and resource management that keep you going. There’s not much new here compared to the Resident Evil 2 Remake of last year, except for a few small additions like a dodge button, a couple new enemy types, and explosive barrels.
What is somehow both a strength and a weakness is the game’s pacing. On the one hand you really get a sense of urgency that you didn’t get in the original. The story is much more streamlined and makes a lot more sense this time around and will always keep you interested in what’s going on. But sometimes it can move so fast that you don’t have time to notice some of the glaring issues, which is almost certainly intentional.
The classic Resident Evil experience is there, but it’s covered by layers and layers of small changes that in the grand scheme of things, feels like a completely different game than its predecessor.
It’s less survival-horror and more action-horror instead, and that’s okay! The original game pretty much did the exact same thing, but at least it still had its roots in survival elements, compared to RE3 Remake’s shooter fest throughout most of the game. Even on harder difficulties I actually had trouble dispensing all the ammo I had, in the end stockpiling loads of additional ammo in the item box. Resident Evil 3 Remake just keeps giving you ammo like a kid in a sweet shop.
One of the reasons that made the original game’s survival elements so damn good was in no thanks to the title’s titular villain, Nemesis, which unfortunately leads me to my next point…
Nemesis in Resident Evil 3 Remake is severely downgraded. What made him so effective before has been completely thrown out the window, replaced with lackluster scripted sequences. One in particular requires you to just push a button forward in a semi-QTE sequence, but that’s it, there’s nothing else going on, no struggle, no tension, no challenge, just push forward and wait for the next cutscene to start. It’s not even like there’s anything interesting happening on screen, you’re just crawling forward for 20 seconds, I wouldn’t exactly call that exhilarating.
Where the original game had Nemesis chase you down through the streets of Raccoon City, forcing you to plan new routes that you normally wouldn’t take just to get around him (much like the excellent Mr. X of Resident Evil 2), the Resident Evil 3 Remake gives you no option other than ‘run here’ or ‘keep moving forward’. There’s no strategy to it and subsequently most of the terror associated with him is gone. In the original he could come out of nowhere and give you a heart attack, in the remake he can only come from specific areas and give you frustration instead.
What’s worse is that this isn’t really rectified in the game’s hardest difficulty settings. Nemesis just gets faster and more aggressive, but his tactics never change, and so on subsequent playthroughs he will be seen mostly as a chore to endure rather than an obstacle to overcome.
I have to now mention the game’s replayability and it’s difficulty settings. When you first start the game you are given 3 difficulty options to choose from, just like the RE2 Remake. I chose Hardcore because I liked the authentic experience of Resident Evil’s difficulty and the ink ribbon save system, yet both are disregarded here. Nowhere in the game is there a mode to introduce ink ribbons as a save system, which is an absolute shame because it added so much more tension to an already tense game. Do I waste a save now or do I hold onto it for a while because I don’t know when I’ll get another ink ribbon? It’s amazing how much of the tension is relieved when you can just save whenever the hell you want. Should I save before I head out to clear an area of items? Oh yeah why not, might as well whilst I’m here!
You can unlock higher difficulties after completing the game under certain conditions, and I would honestly call these the more definitive versions of Resident Evil 3 Remake, which goes to show how much replayability Capcom has thought about. Sadly this becomes short lived when you can buy an infinite assault rifle, some recovery coins and hip pouches and blitz your way through the game’s ‘hardest’ difficulty setting after completing just a few lifetime objectives. Whilst RE2 Remake’s B stories didn’t divulge as much from the main story like the original RE2 game did, at least it gave you the opportunity to play through the game 4 times with different situations and events. RE3 Remake gives you 3 different variations of the game, but only by a small amount with revamped enemy and item placement.
It’s clear that Capcom focused more on the Resident Evil 2 Remake and just saw Resident Evil 3 Remake as a way to gain more money whilst also bridging the gap for players between the RE2 and RE4 remakes. Plus Capcom probably knew that they wouldn’t be able to sell an unfinished game for full price, so gave us all Resident Evil Resistance for free to try and make up for the lack of content. It’s a shame because if this just had another year to cook in the oven, we could have had something truly special. But instead, we’re left with what feels like an unfinished expansion.
With all that said I really can’t say that Resident Evil 3 Remake is a bad game, because it’s not. Resident Evil is like Pizza, because even when Pizza is bad it’s still pizza, which is pretty good (except for Resident Evil 6, that’s a moldy pizza which no one should touch even with a long knife). I still had a great time exploring Raccoon City, and the gorgeous graphics really blew me away at times. I enjoyed playing through the game a second time almost immediately after beating it for the first time, and then a third time again.
It’s hard to call the Resident Evil 3 Remake a good remake, because it has completely changed everything about the original to the point where I’m not sure what to call it. A remake is definitely the right technical term but it just doesn’t feel right. It feels more like a reboot than anything, yet it’s not. As a game, Resident Evil 3 Remake is pretty good especially for recent fans of the series, as a remake, well… that might be another topic of discussion.
If you’re looking for the authentic Resident Evil experience, this is definitely not it. But if you have a Resident Evil itch that you just need to scratch, this could provide lots of hours of entertainment for you, even without the Resident Evil Resistance standalone experience. But at the end of the day, I’d rather just play the excellent Resident Evil 2 Remake, or even the original Resident Evil 3 on my old PS2 instead.